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The Lean Law Firm Blog

E206: Information pile up happening at your legal practice? Eliminate it with this tip

process improvement productivity Nov 08, 2023
Information in the form of papers, files, and memos pile up on a professionals desk. A hand reaches up from behind the desk over the stacks of files for help.

It’s easy for information to pile up in a legal office. You may think that because you don’t sell goods, you don’t have an inventory…but in a knowledge business, your inventory is the files waiting for you to work on them, your overflowing inbox, your voicemails, even the extra stationery supplies piled up in your desk drawers. 

Using the  DOWNTIME framework, we’ve been breaking down the different types of waste that impact your productivity and efficiency. In this blog, we’ll uncover I for Inventory.

Your Tip: Inventory waste can be found in every law practice, often taking the form of work-in-process (WIP), and that includes work that’s ready and waiting for you to get started and work you’ve finished but haven’t passed on. 

Your Action Item: Take some time to look around your office and identify at least three types of inventory waste that you can eliminate or at least reduce. For example:

  • How many files are stacked on your desk or sitting on your to-do list, waiting for you to take some action?
  • Do you have hours of billable time that you haven’t yet entered?
  • Is there a backlog of time that you’ve entered but haven’t yet billed or bills you’ve issued but haven’t collected on?
  • What about your inbox? Is it packed with unread messages and attachments waiting to be filed properly?

Once you get started, it’s hard to stop.

A build-up of inventory interferes with the efficient flow of work—and cash, if we’re talking about time entries and collections—through your practice. By creating and implementing standard operating procedures designed to increase the flow of work, information and resources through your practice, you can reduce inventory waste and increase revenue and productivity. For example, if WIP is your issue, implement a process for billing clients weekly or biweekly. If an overflowing inbox is the problem, look at easy-to-use and inexpensive email solutions like Spark or SimplyFile

Tackling inventory waste is just one way you can use the DOWNTIME framework to accomplish more in your day without working harder. For more ideas, grab our free guide: Eight Ways You’re Losing Time & Money in Your Practice (and what you can do about it)

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